2011

I spent some time scanning through all the species photos and write ups of the last year and it was impossible to choose any one species. They are all special and just reading about their plight or looking into the eyes of some stirs me up and gets my blood boiling.

I also went through some of the comments and responses to my initial species of the day emails (long before this blog began). It has been an interesting exercise. Quite a few asked to be removed from the list (inbox jamming and lack of time/interest), but I also had many people sending them on and then others asking to be added – and so the network built up.

Early on in the year, one woman asked me to remove her from the list because seeing all these species on the brink made her too sad!! It upset me a bit, and in reaction, I put a little quote I found in the following day’s email which sums up how I feel about habitat and species loss (and all the planet’s woes, for that matter):

There is no power on earth that can utterly destroy the human spirit. Whatever the calamity, however profound the oppression, some flicker of life, courage and enterprise will remain. But we must not allow humanity to get to that stage. The first step is for each one of us to look up from our comforts and to learn some inconvenient truths. Then we can get angry and shout from the rooftops’. Alistair Sawday

Perhaps the reason I started sending out the species of the day emails was to do just that. Make people sad, then angry, then positive – then – hopefully – active.

The next day I received this from one of my loyal readers – she sums it all up beautifully, I think:

Thank you for this labour of love! Loss of habitat and species is tragic, and my children are learning slowly that the most dangerous animals on this planet are not great whites, or lions, or bears, or snakes but humans. Not to make them dislike humans, but rather to encourage responsible actions and conscious living (as well as having a great childhood!!).

All awareness building is essential for us to get to the point of taking action. Whether it is by consciously using less water, saving electricity and recycling; by taking out alien invasive plants; by planting indigenous species; or, by contributing to conservation efforts at local, regional or international levels, all actions contribute to the longer term sustainability of our fragile planet.

Your comment “I hope these emails help YOU get sad, then angry, then positive – then active” is so pertinent. Many of us humans are in a state of mourning about the state in which we find our planet (almost as if we have woken up – to Sawday’s “inconvenient truths”) and have to go through the phases of mourning until we are able to again hold up our chins and DO something about it.

This extraordinary photo is one of the many brilliant shots in the wildlife photography awards. Called ‘A marvel of ants’, it shows leaf-cutter ants in action in the Costa Rican rainforests. It sums up so much. How the smallest things can so often be so beautiful; how we need to get younger generations down on their hands and knees watching the ants and beetles and appreciating the intricacy of ecosystems…and how, by working together and pulling our weight, we can achieve great things and make a difference.

I wish you all the best for 2011. I hope that through this blog I can build on my efforts to inspire change and action.

Photograph: Bence Máté/Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010